Running Head: Preservation
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The scope of my paper will address family preservation. Should families be separated because parents inherited bad parenting skills which mirror an absence of stability, consistency and organizational skills within the home? Are the Social Service programs that are currently in place really the answer in all cases; are they exercising exceptional operations management skills within the scope of services advertised or are they doing more harm than good? Should there be exceptions and interceptions in place in an attempt to reconcile and promote healthy relationships to keep a family actively functioning together? All of these questions bring me to my topic on family preservation. In our current study, operations management, we are learning to identify important characteristics on the behavior within an organization, a group of people identified by a shared interest or purpose. The functionality of ones household can be contributed to operations management, and many times, families are not equipped with the training or resources to accomplish necessary goals resulting in the functioning capacity less than that permitted by law.
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Family preservation is a social service program that is in effect in most states, and is housed by each state’s Department of Human Resources. The program is designed to keep families together by providing short term support and intervention services to children and families in their home, where the family unit can be observed, evaluated and treated together. It is based on the premise that birth families are the preferred means of providing family life for children, whenever that is possible. This paper addresses the history, legal policy, ethical, practice issues and possible demise of family preservation in the absence of practical operations management tactics.
The term family preservation was initially applied to “Homebuilders”, a foster care placement prevention program developed in 1974 in Tacoma, Washington. The Homebuilders model called for short-term, time-limited services provided to the entire family within their home. Services were provided to families with children who were at risk of being placed into foster care.
The program was based on crisis intervention theory. This theory says that families that are about to have a child placed in foster care would be more open to receiving services and learning new behaviors. Social learning theory also played a part in defining the Homebuilders model. Social learning theory rejects the belief that changes in thinking and feeling must precede changes in behavior. Instead, behavior, beliefs and expectations influence each other in a reciprocal manner.
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Initially, the program was expected to serve families with older youth who were referred from mental health agencies. Subsequently, the program was used to serve families with children 0-18 who were referred from child welfare agencies. Key program characteristics included: contact with the family within 24 hours of a crisis; caseload sizes of one or two families per worker; service duration of four to six weeks; provision of both concrete services and counseling, with an emphasis on techniques that change behaviors and responses among family members; staff availability to families 24 hours per day, seven days per week and an average of 20 hours of service per family per week. In addition, the program was characterized by a philosophy of treating families with respect, emphasizing the strengths of family members and providing both counseling and concrete services.
Since the early 1970s, the term "family preservation" has been used to describe a variety of programs that are intended to provide services to children and families who are experiencing serious problems that may eventually lead to the placement of children in foster care or otherwise result in the dissolution of the family unit. Some of these previous programs were not supported by good operations management which resulted in extremely different theoretical approaches forcing Congress to react. For example, the “FAMILIES” program begun in Iowa in 1974 was based on family systems theory. Applications of this theory focused on the way family members interact with one another and attempted to change the way in which the family functions as a whole. Under the original program in Iowa, teams of workers carried a caseload of 10 to 12 families whom Family Preservation 5
they saw in the families' homes for an average of four and one-half months. Both concrete and therapeutic services were provided and the principles of working with families in a respectful and positive manner were emphasized.
Laws surrounding the issue include the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980 (P.L. 96-272). This legislation responded to concerns that placement in out of home care was being used when other services were more appropriate, that children were remaining in care for excessive periods of time, and that children were simply being forgotten once they entered out of home care. The goal of the act was to reduce reliance on out of home care and encourage the use of preventive and reunification services. The legislation also mandated that agencies engage in permanency planning efforts.
Congress again took action, creating the Family Preservation and Family Support program as part of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993. This program restates the principles of P.L. 96-272 but added funding for a variety of services, including intensive family preservation services and services to reunify families with children in care. In 1997, Congress passed the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA); President Clinton signed it into law on November 17, 1997. The new legislation reauthorized the Family Preservation and Family Support program, renamed it the Promoting Safe and Stable Families program, and modified and clarified a wide range of policies established under the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980.
Family preservation can pose ethical issues in cases of family abuse, neglect, or violence. An article titled “Fatal Preservation” written by Dennis Saffran he exclaims: Family Preservation 6
On the day before Easter the mentally unstable mother of a five-year-old Bronx boy named Daytwon Bennett tied him to a chair and beat him to death with a broomstick. Starving when he died—he weighed just 30 pounds—Daytwon had suffered "multiple blunt impact injuries" over a long period, according to the autopsy report. Daytwon was not unknown to the child welfare authorities. They had removed him from his mother's custody and placed him in foster care on four separate occasions in his short lifetime—only to uproot him and send him back to her for more abuse each time. Daytwon's killing was just the latest in a parade of tragedies in which children have been murdered or severely injured after judges and caseworkers have returned them to—or allowed them to remain with—violent, deranged, or drug-addicted parents. In November 1995, New York and the nation recoiled in horror at the death of six-year-old Elisa Izquierdo at the hands of her crack-addicted mother, who had regained custody of the girl despite the anguished pleas of her other relatives and preschool teachers. That same month a Bronx judge ordered 17-month-old Rayvon Evans removed from the foster mother with whom he had always lived and returned to the drug-addicted and alcoholic mother who had abandoned him at birth. Three months later she scalded him to death, and two months after that, when the stench got too strong, her boyfriend tossed the decomposing body out the window into a dumpster. A few months before Elisa died, the drug-addicted mother of a two-year-old Long Island boy punched him hard enough to rupture his intestines and kill him—because he would not stop crying. She had broken his arm on a previous visit, but social workers had "reunited" the two of them five days before his death. That same week the press reported the story of four-year-old Margarita Seeley, whose drug-dealing Family Preservation 7
biological mother forced her to live in a closet and burned her with cigarettes and scalding water after getting the girl back from the loving foster mother who had raised her for the first three years of her life. Most of the press commentary about these tragedies portrayed these children as casualties of an overworked, understaffed, and under funded bureaucracy that "let them slip through the cracks."
Cases like these are severe and unfortunate. On the contrary, another article advocates for the nuclear family and keeping the family unit together. Carlson and Bryce indicate that a clear pattern of social learning has to occur in an intact nuclear family if children are to grow up without divorce, and if families are to avoid becoming "broken." Each of these principles is listed by the authors and each is supported by research data indicating how and why these principles are critical for the cohesion of the family. These are: (1) The logic of traditional gender roles; (2) The importance of personal sacrifice for the sake of family and children; (3) How to love - the process of affection; (4) The foundation of order in a given moral code; (5) Specific cognitive skills or how to think; and (6) the inevitability of social class and inequality, and how to persevere in this kind of reality (Carlson 1988).
The authors cite research which indicates that the one-parent home constitutes an inferior intellectual environment and results in intellectual deficits. The report also presents the negative effects of the fatherless home and its production of social pathology and deficits. "What middle-class children learn in a one-parent home differs markedly from what children learn in a two-parent home. According to the authors, children, Family Preservation 8
whether white, black, Hispanic or oriental, who grow up with natural parents permanently married are likely to learn the logic of gender roles, the importance of personal sacrifice, the ability to love, lawfulness, the limits of liberty, the need for industry, and hope.
Thus, the authors of both articles make very valid claims. There are pivotal life lessons learned in the nuclear family. Yet, when a child is in a neglectful, abusive, and unhealthy environment the nuclear family has to be broken. Otherwise, stories like Daytwon, Rayvon, and Elisa will persist.
On the other hand, in another article the author reiterates the importance of the complete family and indicates that "the strongest predicators of domestic violence are single parent households, unmarried couples often consisting of a biological mother and her children with a boyfriend unrelated to the children neither by birth or by acceptance of responsibility, and unsupervised or under supervised foster care situations." "Government and private sector efforts should be geared to help parents remain home" (Bethke 1993).
How soon is too soon to reunite children with their birth parents? Hohman and Butt answer this question in an article describing the addiction recovery process and stages of recovery, the behaviors and attitudes that indicate recovery, and how recovery impacts parenting. This information is crucial for child welfare workers involved in decision making regarding family reunification. Two models of recovery are reviewed, Family Preservation 9
one from alcoholism and one from cocaine addiction. In addition, issues encountered in recovery, particularly for women are discussed. Case examples and discussion demonstrate how various organizations arrive at their decisions when determining the appropriateness of reunification. But, the risk of the child going home and being killed or severely hurt still exists.
Similarly, another article discusses how courts often play active roles in the lives of families supervised by child protective services (CPS). Judges arbitrate dependency, mandate services, determine placements of children, and order continued supervision or termination of parental rights or services. The study in this article examined the effects of court orders in preventing recurrence of substance abuse in the cases of 447 children in kinship care while under CPS supervision. In addition, the effects of court orders on duration of service and on numbers of placements were studied. The results suggested that court interventions had mixed outcomes. Levels of compliance with mandated substance abuse and mental health treatment did not appear to influence rates of re-abuse or duration of service. Court orders appeared to affect both the number of caretakers and placements the children experienced. Children adjudicated dependent were more likely to have multiple caretakers than those under voluntary supervision. This study suggests that further research is needed to determine how compliance with court-ordered treatment should be used by workers in making decisions about continued supervision. In addition, the authors highlight the importance of adequate substance use and abuse screening in good case planning (Rittner 2000).
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What do these viewpoints mean for operations management within the Department of Human Resources? Department of Human Resources workers within the Family Preservation program have the challenge of not only developing a strategic plan that will aid in competent and promising decision making but also determining whether a child should remain in the custody of an abusive parent or go into a foster care system. Where, they are not likely to learn the logic of gender roles, the importance of personal sacrifice, the ability to love, lawfulness, the limits of liberty, the need for industry, and hope. Do you take the child away from the abuse and allow for them to live? Or, is it more important to preserve the family? Kay S. Hymowitz says: “Family preservation may please advocates, but it kills kids”
In conclusion, the idea of family preservation is that any family is better than no family if you provide enough state support; services don’t take into consideration the best interest of the child. Children that grow up in nuclear families have a better chance at success, in my opinion, providing adequate yet effective parameters are maintained; however, allowing a child to stay in a harmful situation can prove fatal. Often times, many workers within these organizations are under paid and over worked which can lead to a lack of competent judgment and a bad attempt at passing the buck. Is it possible for such a program to prove successful with functional operations management guidelines incorporated? Absolutely and can be accomplished by implementation of both operational management/ capacity strategies and even master scheduling which would require all agencies alike to adhere to identical policies and procedures that have Family Preservation 11
previously proven successful. Doing so would require organizations to follow through with the strictest guidelines and absolute certainty that a parent wants to be reunited with the child and has changed their ways before placing the child back into a potentially fatal situation.
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Carlson, Allan C. and Christensen, Bryce J. "Of Two Minds: The Educational and Cultural Effects of Family Dissolution." The Family in America. Rockford Institute, Rockford, Illinois. Vol. 2 No. 8. August 1988. Straffan, Dennis. “Fatal Preservation”. City Journal. Vol. 7 No. 3. Summer 1997. Elshtain, Jean Bethke. "Family Matters: The Plight of American's Children." The Christian Century. July 14-21, 1993, pp. 710-712. Hohman, M.M., and Butt, R.L. (2001). How soon is too soon? Addiction recovery and family reunification. Child Welfare, 80(1), 53-67. Rittner, B., and Dozier, C.D. (2000). Effects of court-ordered substance abuse treatment in child protection cases. Social Work, 45(2), 131-140. P.L. 96-272
Swearingen, John (1999) Operations Management (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall Inc. Render, Barry and Heizer Jay (1999). Principles of Operations Management (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Simon and Schuster Company Fitzsimmons, James A. and Mona J. (1998). Service Management: Operations, Strategy, and Information Technology (2nd ed.). Boston, Massachusetts: Irwin McGraw-Hill Companies Knod, Edward, M. and Schonoberger, Richard J. (2001). Operations Management: Meeting Customers’ Demands (7th ed.) New York, NY: McGraw- Hill Companies